EVERY day many dogs are walked on the Tulla Road in Ennis but if you are in the vicinity, you might also be lucky enough to see Lucy, a micro Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig, as she is brought on her regular treks.
Lucy is the pet of local couple Mark Greene and Sarah Jane Germaine, who live just off the main road in Gort na Habhna.
When The Clare Champion visited their house on Tuesday, Lucy was relaxing comfortably in the sitting room, alongside one of the couple’s two dogs.
Just two-years-old now, Lucy weighs an estimated 160 pounds and is surely one of the biggest and most unusual pets in Ennis. “I wouldn’t say there’s another one in the town. Not one that gets walked around the place and definitely not one that lives in the sitting room!” says Mark.
Sarah has a lifelong love of animals and always wanted to have a pet pig, so two years ago, Mark bought her Lucy on Done Deal.
Pictures taken at the time show a small animal, barely bigger than a puppy and while she has grown hugely since then, she could still get a lot bigger. “They’re three or four before they’re fully grown. To me she doesn’t look like she’s grown a huge amount in the last couple of months but other people who haven’t seen her in a while think she’s got massive,” he says.
Massive she certainly is and she makes for a unique sight when she is out walking on the roads close to their home. Often people are curious and want to record the sight on their phones. “You’d walk down the road, see a car driving one way and the next thing they’re coming back videoing you,” says Sarah.
A colleague of Mark’s once showed him a photo a friend had posted on Snapchat of Lucy being walked by Sarah, while he says many people ask about the pig. “When we were able to get her into the car (Lucy is too big now) Sarah used to have her up at Lees Road an awful lot and you’d want to be putting away an hour or two to walk around there because you wouldn’t get 20ft before someone would be stopping you. She’s been up to Lahinch and Spanish Point and you wouldn’t want to be in a hurry to get away.”
A stubborn individual may be described as pig-headed and having shared their home with Lucy for the last couple of years, they understand how the phrase came about, because their pet fits the stereotype. “With a dog, you can get around them but if she doesn’t want to do something, she is not doing it! She’s really stubborn, she’ll scream and she’ll kick and she’ll buck. She just does what she wants to do and you fit in around her,” Sarah jokes.
Lucy is also very intelligent she has found. “She was so easy to house train, she was trained within a day,” she recalls.
She can be quite demanding, and there is no prospect of them having much of a lie-in at their home, because if Lucy isn’t fed relatively close to her normal time, she lets everyone in earshot know that she wants her breakfast. “She’ll let you know if you’re late with it. She will let you know!” Mark jokes.
When The Clare Champion visited Lucy was quite relaxed, pottering around the house and Mark said it was fairly typical of her. “This is what she does most of the time. Wanders around like she’s doing now, with her nose to the ground.”
Before she arrived, Mark expected that Lucy would be a good bit wilder than she has turned out to be, however both say that she has had occasional temper tantrums. “I think it’s when she comes into heat,” says Sarah. “It’s very rare it happens but it has happened a few times, you just have to follow her around and wait for her to calm down.”
On one occasion she actually got away from the house and ran towards town. “She took off up the road here, out onto the main road. There were cars stopped and everything, she thundered all the way down to the Roslevan, head down, you couldn’t stop her,” he recalls.
Eventually they managed to get her back home and harmony was restored once again.
They agree that Sarah is Lucy’s favourite person and she says her pig is very loving. “I’d sit down there on the rug and cuddle into her. She’d kiss you and everything,” she says.
Their seven-year-old daughter Emily gets on very well with the pig as well, even though Lucy can sometimes take items of food on her if she leaves them down unguarded. “She’s like a baby, everything is going to go into her mouth,” says Mark.
Lucy certainly has her favourites and there is one friend of Mark’s who she doesn’t even want to let in the front door. “He doesn’t have a problem with that, he won’t come in if she’s here anyway,” he says.“She’s definitely the boss of the house,” Sarah laughs.
At just two, Lucy is clearly well cared for and could well live until 2037 or thereabouts. “There’s a good chance she’ll be at Emily’s 21st,” says Mark.
If she reaches that milestone, more and more people will have seen her out walking and people may have stopped putting her on Snapchat, but Lucy will still probably be one of the most novel pets in her home town.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.